Dr. Emilie M. Townes, an American Baptist clergywoman, is a native of Durham, North Carolina. She holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Ph.D. in Religion in Society and Personality from Northwestern University. Dr. Townes is the first Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale University Divinity School and in the fall of 2005, she was the first African American woman elected to the presidential line of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and served as president in 2008. In July 2008, she became the first African American and first woman to serve as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Divinity School. She is the former Carolyn Williams Beaird Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. Editor of two collection of essays, A Troubling in My Soul: Womanist Perspectives on Evil and Suffering and Embracing the Spirit: Womanist Perspectives on Hope, Salvation, and Transformation; she has also authored Womanist Ethics, Womanist Hope, In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness, Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health Issues and a Womanist Ethic of Care, and her groundbreaking book, Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil. She is co-editor with Stephanie Y. Mitchem of the recently released Faith, Health, and Healing in African American Life. She continues her research on women and health in the African diaspora in Brasil and the United States. Dr. Townes is a founding member of the Initiative on Religion and Politics at Yale that seeks to bring a progressive religious voice to the education of seminarians, spark lively debate on the interplay of religion and politics in the university, and speak to the pressing social issues of the day. She is also the founder of the Middle Passage Conversations on Black Religion in the African Diaspora Initiative at Yale. Townes was elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009.